On Saturday my wife and I saw Macbeth at the Playhouse in Brisbane. It was an wonderful performance, pulled off brilliantly by a very talented cast. The intensity was palpable, both on the stage but also in the auditorium. You could almost feel the intense concentration as every member of the audience strained to listen to the 17th Century English dialogue in order to follow along with the plot.
Afterwards, I got to thinking about how often I observe (or indeed demonstrate) that level of intensity. As a foreign language speaker, it reminded me of the way I find myself listening to French or German speakers to ensure I fully understand what they are saying before I reply. I think it is a skill that is often left by the wayside as we converse in familiar languages at ‘normal’ levels. And unfortunately, that applies too often to client meetings.
I see too many meetings being conducted without the full attention of the participants. Mobile phones being checked at every vibration, emails being sent during meetings – distractions left, right and centre. And even in technology free environments, the lack of intensity still manifests. I know this happens because I observe it when I run client relationship or sales role plays with accountants. Too often I find myself having to pull up the ‘accountant’ in the role play because it is blatantly obvious that they are thinking about what they are going to say next, rather than what the client is saying. (If you are interested, a classic indicator of this is that the next question bears no relation to what the client just said!)
It’s great to have a process to go through when you are meeting with a client but it is much more important to LISTEN and respond in the moment. You will get a far better outcome in terms of the client relationship, building trust and identifying new opportunities to help the client if you take your time, go with the client (after all, if they are saying it, it is important to them) and display a Macbeth-like intensity in your meetings. Give it a go – I think you and your clients will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.